DISPATCH FROM ... THE DEPARTMENT OF FAIR PLAY

D.C. Deserves a Flip Side

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

If all the states are getting one, why shouldn't the District? We're not talking about a genuine vote in Congress. We're talking about a distinctive quarter, symbolic of all that this place represents. Today, Page Three offers a 25- cent dispatch.

How about on the back of a new quarter: the Washington Monument encircled by the Beltway and the District's latin motto, Justitia omnibus ( Justice for all)?

Probably too glib.

Or maybe a design showing the White House, a panda on the South Lawn, and Vox populi (The voice of the people)? Or one with the new Wilson Bridge and Divinum sedare dolorem (It is divine to alleviate pain)?

Lincoln and his memorial are taken by the penny. And E Pluribus Unum is already standard on U.S. coins.

But with a host of new Democrats in Congress, the District might finally get a chance to ponder those numismatic issues via the D.C. Coin Bill, which Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) has been trying to get passed for years.

The bill would allow the District to participate in the U.S. Mint's 50 State Quarters Program and come up with a unique design for the reverse of a special-issue quarter.

The design would have to be "emblematic," according to the law that authorized the program, and it could not be "frivolous or inappropriate."

Forty state quarters have come out so far. All are appropriate, and many are rather predictable. Eleven bear the outlines of their states. Ohio and North Carolina both depict the Wright Brothers airplane. Kansas and North Dakota feature bison. Wisconsin includes a cow and Kentucky, a horse.

Maryland's, depicting the Annapolis State House, and Virginia's, showing the ships that sailed to Jamestown in 1607, are among the nicest.

Which brings us to the District.


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